Vekoma Likely to Miss Forego

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Vekoma | Sarah Andrew

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.–Though he has recovered from a leg issue that interrupted his training schedule, two-time Grade I winner Vekoma (Candy Ride {Arg}) looks to be a long shot to compete in the GI Forego S. Aug. 29.

Trainer George Weaver said Friday said the 4-year-old colt, co-owned by Randy Hill's R.A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables, was “50-50” to make the seven-furlong Forego. Vekoma has been treated for an abscess in the coronet band of his left front leg and has not had a timed work since his 1 1/4-length victory in the GI Met Mile July 4 at Belmont Park.

“It's not looking promising right now,” Weaver said.  “I need to get a work in him, and it's a day-to-day thing. He has a little abscess. We are just about ready to do something with him, but it's a day-to-day decision.”

Weaver said if Vekoma does not make the Forego, he would likely be pointed toward the six-furlong GI Vosburgh S. Sept. 26 at Belmont Park. The Vosburgh is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge, “Win and You're In” series of races that guarantees a fees-paid entry and travel expenses. Vekoma already has won two Breeders' Cup Challenge races: the GI Carter S. for a berth in the Sprint and the Met Mile for the Dirt Mile.

Weaver said that Vekoma, unbeaten in three starts this year and a winner of six of eight in his career, has been going to the track for his morning exercise.

“He has galloped the last few days,” Weaver said. “He is moving good now. The faster you go, the more it may aggravate that tissue, so it's just a matter of me getting to the point where I think he can put some speed work on it.”

Though Vekoma was given the rest of the year off after the 2019 GI Kentucky Derby–where he was moved up to 12th from 13th by the DQ of Maximum Security (New Year's Day)–Weaver said the chestnut has not had many problems during his three seasons of competition.

“He grabbed a quarter when he was 3-year-old,” Weaver said. “All horses have issues from time to time. We ask them to be athletes and it's part of the game. He is a very, very good horse.”

Hill praised Weaver and said that missing the Forego with Vekoma–whom he expects will be the Eclipse Award-winning sprinter– was not a big deal. Funny Guy (Big Brown), a Hill-Gatsas-Swick Stable horse trained by John Terranova, is a probable for the Forego.

“I think that George has managed this horse perfectly,” Hill said. “Sometimes you get frustrated as an owner. I always let the trainer do their job. If you look at the way that George has handled this horse, I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't think any other trainer would have this horse where he is now.”

Noting that Vekoma was a May foal, Hill said the decision to put him away after the Derby made sense and has yielded a top 4-year-old.

“George gave him the time off to come back and be a big, strong man,” Hill said. “So if George thinks he needs a little more time…. I think if we don't make the Forego, George is talking about the Vosburgh, which I kind of like, because it's six furlongs.  We can see how he reacts again at six furlongs. We haven't seen him at six in a long time. Then we've got the choice of six or the mile. I've got Funny Guy in the Forego. Of course, my dream is that Funny Guy wins the (BC Dirt Mile) and Vekoma wins the (BC Sprint) and I win two races.”

Vekoma won the GII Blue Grass S. in 2019 and is no stranger to two-turn races, but Hill sees him as more of a sprinter/miler-type now and said it is unlikely he would go to the GI Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 7 at Keeneland.

“We do what we do best,” he said. “I think we will be sprinter of the year. I think we are now. Everybody loves Volatile (Violence), but I can't wait to race against him. I think Vekoma will tie him in a knot. I do. I think he's a good horse. Don't get me wrong, he's a very nice horse, but I want to see when he comes up against some good horses. You look at what Vekoma did in the Met Mile. He was turning for home and five Grade I horses swallowed him up and he just re-engaged. I haven't seen anything like that in a long time. I don't think anybody can beat us. I don't say that. I'm pretty realistic as an owner.”

All five of Funny Guy's victories have come against New York-bred company and Hill said the Forego will be a good test for the 4-year-old colt.

'We'll see how he does,” Hill said. “We've got to find out about this horse. He's a New York-bred. Everybody says he hasn't faced anything yet. He's a New York-bred, let's go and look. John said 'let's see how good we are.' He's training great. He's getting better and better.”

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